How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Ragland Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Ragland AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Ragland AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Ragland AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Ragland AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Classes
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Ragland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Ragland AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ragland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Ragland AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Ragland AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Ragland AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Ragland AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ragland home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ragland AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Ragland Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ragland AL.